Hi.

I'm Kerra Michele, and this is my dog, Lunchbox. Welcome to our blog! We generally write about easy tips to make a rental space feel more like home, but we also talk about our life and travels. I hope you like our stories and adventures!

{Part 2} I'm pretty sure Paris was a mistake.

{Part 2} I'm pretty sure Paris was a mistake.

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If you don't already know, I embarked upon this crazy quest filled with hope and happiness. The hope and happiness dissipated quickly.

{Days 2-5} The Days that Extinguished the Light in my Heart

So remember when life in Paris was all sunshine and roses? That was short-lived. My downward spiral really began on Day 2: The Day No One Showed Up.

I like to think I'm a good planner. I'm a go-getter, a woman of action, a thinker of thoughts. That is why I planned to sell all the existing furniture in the apartment right away. Not only did I need an empty space so I could paint (and don't forget, suddenly patch and repair plaster walls), but I also needed the money from selling existing pieces to add to my minuscule furniture budget. Also relevant: I couldn't exactly bring new furniture into an apartment already filled with furniture. Bottom line, everything had to go ASAP. This is why I did my research and planned to have an Open House or Estate Sale type thing on Day 2. I advertised with photos, prices, and descriptions on multiple sites, and I even had those ads translated into French so the locals would know what the eff I was talking about. I got plenty of inquiries so it never occurred to me that no one would show up.

But no one showed up.

Like, no one.

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I know, gurl... I. Know.

Ok, so maybe there were two people. But one woman took all the throw pillows and the only good lamp, which were literally the only things in the apartment that I could have possibly reused, and another lady appeared to be on holiday from the local mental hospital. She called me 'tacky' about 28 times before leaving empty-handed.

What do you do when you find yourself completely and royally screwed? Well, apparently I unpack for an hour and drink a bottle of wine. But after that, I pushed everything into the center of the living room and got to work.

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(In case you were wondering, this is what hell looks like.)

It was at this point that I realized I never got a stir stick at the paint store. The obvious substitute was a plastic hanger.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYqYrEvzLS0?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

If you recall, my client booed my soft, antique-y vision for her flat and expressed her deep love of vibrant color and modern furnishings. I have no fear of color and love a good collaboration, so I chose a bold, springtime lavender for the living room walls.

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014Sidebar: Do you like how Amy is painting all by herself and I'm on Whatsapp? I promise it wasn't like that the entire time.

I had planned to spend Day 3 shopping for antiques but instead I had to go to the paint store for more paint and supplies. The bedroom walls were in the worst shape of all and that room was next on the agenda. Sigh... Another trip to the hardware store on the subway, but this time I was smart enough to bring a little cart.

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017 Once I repaired the walls and primed them, it was time to start painting again. At midnight, of course, because I make awesome decisions.

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On Day 4 I decided that if I didn't let the sunshine and fresh air touch my skin I would wither up and die, so I applied a second coat of paint and left to go furniture shopping. I found my way to an inexpensive home furnishings store en route to the antiques market, so I popped in to investigate.

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And because I'm incredibly mature slash had barely left the apartment in 48 hours, I decided to play with giant plastic bears in public.

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After I finished being American, I headed down the street toward the antiques market. Unfortunately, I have the attention span of a gnat and noticed a pretty dress in a boutique window. I spent the next hour trying on French clothes and getting my hair done by the adorable shop girl.

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Feeling good about the time I just wasted, I set off toward the antique market. It was obviously closed by the time I arrived because, why wouldn't it be?? So I headed back home on the bus with my loot from the first store, but not before posing for photos with my car's twin and an awesome red door. (Yes, I am that cheesy.)

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047 I got home and did one of many video diaries for the documentary about the horror that was my life (and yes, I'm using a chair as a countertop because the kitchen is now a war zone), and then I finished painting the bedroom before falling sleep to nightmares about failure and inadequacy.

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And yes, it's Day 4 of 8 and I still haven't gotten rid of the furniture. At this point I'm spending all my cell phone data begging strangers to take these things for free. FREE! I can't even GIVE this stuff away!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD WHEN YOU CAN'T GIVE THINGS AWAY FOR FREE?!?!

But I digress...

On Day 5 I had big plans. I really believed with all my heart that it would be the best day of the entire trip. (Do you find my innocence and optimism charming? Because I certainly don't.) After pleading with my client to increase the budget so I could hire a contractor to help paint/repair walls, and all but prostituting myself to get a friend of a friend of a friend to come take all the furniture out of the apartment later that night, I headed to a thrift store in search of furniture. Apparently everyone else in Paris had the same plan because opening the thrift store gate was a whole lot like The Running Of The Bulls.

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I was on the hunt for dining chairs, a bench, a dresser, a bed, and a credenza or buffet of some sort -- and I had exactly 30 minutes to find them, claim them, buy them, and arrange delivery before I needed to leave for IKEA. Reminder: I don't speak French. Fortunately I have some very generous friends in Paris who showed up to help me. I owe them my first-born child. #worthit

After finding everything I needed except a bed, I set off for IKEA -- my only other errand for the day. I had to get to a specific subway stop by 4pm to catch the last IKEA shuttle bus to the middle of nowhere. Again, I don't speak French, but the website suggested that it was easy. "Go to this station, shuttle bus is waiting outside." Sounds easy enough. So Amy and I got off the subway and walked up to street level 6 minutes before the bus was scheduled to depart.

Now imagine a traffic circle with 40 streets attached to it, add an enormous bus depot off to the side.

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For the love of all that is holy and good, please let me find the IKEA bus.

After spending 15 minutes running in every direction and asking multiple people for help, I admitted defeat and resigned myself to taking 2 city buses -- adding an hour to my trip. Of course, missing the bus there also likely meant missing the bus home, but I didn't have time to worry about that yet. I mean, maybe I wouldn't miss it, right? OPTIMISM IS THE WORST QUALITY A HUMAN BEING CAN POSSESS.

Once arriving at IKEA I blasted through the store in record time. Of course they were out of half the things I needed, and of course half the things I bought were wrong, but whatever. I had 30 minutes to get in and get out or I'd be late to meet my contractor AND the guy taking the furniture. With that much determination on my side, how could I fail, right?? I HATE MYSELF SO MUCH.

When I got in line to pay, however, I found out that my money was no good there. Apparently they wouldn't take my Visa debit card because it didn't have a chip embedded, and Amy was the only one in the group who had one. After making every citizen of France wait in line behind me for 7 years, Amy put an entire apartment's worth of furniture on her card and we headed to the delivery service counter. (Don't even ask what I would've done had she not been there, because you don't want to know the answer.) At this point we've missed the last IKEA shuttle back to the Paris subway but there's nothing I can do about it, so I got an ice cream cone. I'm still thinking I might get home soon enough to make my rendezvous with both the contractor and the furniture guy. Somehow, I am still hopeful...

Since the universe apparently hates people with hope in their hearts, it made sure to have a new employee working the service desk that night so it would take 60 minutes to arrange delivery. And then, just to kick me while I was down, they refused to take half the items we bought because they were "too fragile" for delivery. So now the contractor is gone, the furniture guy is gone, and I have to take a bus to a train to a subway with eleventy billion bags and heavy boxes home from the suburbs.

This is the part where I start to lose my mind. I've barely slept in 6 days, I've been under extreme amounts of stress, and nothing seems to be going my way. And I'm being filmed, so people are staring at me anyway. It was at this point I stopped caring if I annoyed people because I was really, really annoyed myself.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk-x7hHkVIE?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

Defeated, I arrive back at the apartment and have to continue working. The day didn't go as I'd hoped, but I still had SO MUCH to do and there was no time to feel sorry for myself. There were funny mirror lamps that needed to be painted gold so I could reuse them in the apartment, and I had lots of paperwork to do so I didn't go over budget.

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And that was the end of Day 5. But don't worry! It gets much, much worse...

You will never believe what happens next, so come back soon to hear more about my crazy week in Paris!

And, as always, thank you so very much for sharing me with all your friends!

{Part 3} I don't think I like Paris anymore.

{Part 3} I don't think I like Paris anymore.

{Guest Blogger} 8 Tips for a Greener Home